If you’re up on scientific skin care mumbo jumbo, then the term telomere may already be part of your vocabulary. Chances are you may have stumbled across it when trying to decide whether or not to try the latest anti-wrinkle treatment.
Simply put, a telomere is a region of repetitive DNA sequences found at the end of a chromosome. It helps to protect the end of the chromosome from deteriorating or from fusing (joining) with chromosomes close by. During cell division telomeres help to protect the ends of chromosomes and the information contained within. Think of them as the tip end of a shoelace which helps to prevent fraying.
Every time a cell divides, telomeres shorten in length. Very short telomeres trigger cell crisis and cell death. There are those who believe that if we can lengthen telomeres in certain cells that this may help to extend human life. However, this theory hasn’t yet been proven. And, it may come with side effects including an increased susceptibility to cancer.
When it comes to cosmetics, there are products that promise to stabilize telomeres so that they won’t shorten. The data to support these claims is made by skin care manufacturers themselves so at this point it is difficult to assess their efficacy.